New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Let Zion Rejoice
1 Awake, awake!
Put on your strength, Zion;
Put on your glorious garments,
Jerusalem, holy city.
Never again shall the uncircumcised
or the unclean enter you.
2 Arise, shake off the dust,
sit enthroned, Jerusalem;
Loose the bonds from your neck,
captive daughter Zion!
3 For thus says the Lord:
For nothing you were sold,
without money you shall be redeemed.
4 For thus says the Lord God:
To Egypt long ago my people went down,
to sojourn there;
Assyria, too, oppressed them for nought.
5 But now, what am I to do here?
—oracle of the Lord.
My people have been taken away for nothing;
their rulers mock, oracle of the Lord;
constantly, every day, my name is reviled.
6 Therefore my people shall know my name
on that day, that it is I who speaks: Here I am!
7 How beautiful upon the mountains[a]
are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”(A)
8 Listen! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
For they see directly, before their eyes,
the Lord’s return to Zion.(B)
9 Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
All the ends of the earth can see
the salvation of our God.
11 Depart, depart, go out from there,
touch nothing unclean!
Out from there![b] Purify yourselves,
you who carry the vessels of the Lord.
12 But not in hurried flight will you go out,
nor leave in headlong haste,
For the Lord goes before you,
and your rear guard is the God of Israel.(C)
Suffering and Triumph of the Servant of the Lord[c]
13 See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
14 Even as many were amazed at him—
so marred were his features,
beyond that of mortals
his appearance, beyond that of human beings—(D)
15 So shall he startle many nations,
kings shall stand speechless;
For those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.(E)
1 Who would believe what we have heard?[d]
To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?(F)
2 He grew up like a sapling before him,(G)
like a shoot from the parched earth;
He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,
no beauty to draw us to him.
3 He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.(H)
4 Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God[e] and afflicted,(I)
5 But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.(J)
6 We had all gone astray like sheep,
all following our own way;
But the Lord laid upon him[f]
the guilt of us all.(K)
7 Though harshly treated, he submitted
and did not open his mouth;
Like a lamb led to slaughter
or a sheep silent before shearers,
he did not open his mouth.(L)
8 Seized and condemned, he was taken away.
Who would have thought any more of his destiny?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
struck for the sins of his people.
9 He was given a grave among the wicked,
a burial place with evildoers,
Though he had done no wrong,
nor was deceit found in his mouth.(M)
10 But it was the Lord’s will to crush him with pain.
By making his life as a reparation offering,[g]
he shall see his offspring, shall lengthen his days,
and the Lord’s will shall be accomplished through him.
11 Because of his anguish he shall see the light;
because of his knowledge he shall be content;
My servant, the just one, shall justify the many,
their iniquity he shall bear.
12 Therefore I will give him his portion among the many,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
Because he surrendered himself to death,
was counted among the transgressors,
Bore the sins of many,
and interceded for the transgressors.(N)
The New Zion
1 Raise a glad cry, you barren one[h] who never bore a child,
break forth in jubilant song, you who have never been in labor,
For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife
than the children of her who has a husband,
says the Lord.(O)
2 Enlarge the space for your tent,
spread out your tent cloths unsparingly;
lengthen your ropes and make firm your pegs.(P)
3 For you shall spread abroad to the right and left;
your descendants shall dispossess the nations
and shall people the deserted cities.[i]
4 [j]Do not fear, you shall not be put to shame;
do not be discouraged, you shall not be disgraced.
For the shame of your youth you shall forget,
the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
5 For your husband is your Maker;
the Lord of hosts is his name,
Your redeemer,[k] the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
6 The Lord calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
A wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.(Q)
7 For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
8 In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the Lord, your redeemer.
9 This is for me like the days of Noah:
As I swore then that the waters of Noah
should never again flood the earth,
So I have sworn now not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.(R)
10 Though the mountains fall away
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never fall away from you
nor my covenant of peace[l] be shaken,
says the Lord, who has mercy on you.(S)
11 O afflicted one,[m] storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
your foundations in sapphires;(T)
12 I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord;
great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In justice shall you be established,
far from oppression, you shall not fear,
from destruction, it cannot come near.
15 If there be an attack, it is not my doing;
whoever attacks shall fall before you.
16 See, I have created the smith
who blows on the burning coals
and forges weapons as his work;
It is I also who have created
the destroyer to work havoc.
17 Every weapon fashioned against you shall fail;
every tongue that brings you to trial
you shall prove false.
This is the lot of the servants of the Lord,
their vindication from me—oracle of the Lord.
An Invitation to Grace
1 All you who are thirsty,[n]
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!(U)
2 Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what does not satisfy?
Only listen to me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
3 Pay attention and come to me;
listen, that you may have life.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
the steadfast loyalty promised to David.(V)
4 As I made him a witness to peoples,
a leader and commander of peoples,
5 So shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and a nation[o] that knew you not shall run to you,
Because of the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.(W)
6 [p]Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their way,
and sinners their thoughts;
Let them turn to the Lord to find mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways,
my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 [q]Yet just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
11 So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
but shall do what pleases me,
achieving the end for which I sent it.
12 Yes, in joy you shall go forth,
in peace you shall be brought home;
Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you,
all trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 In place of the thornbush, the cypress shall grow,
instead of nettles,[r] the myrtle.
This shall be to the Lord’s renown,
as an everlasting sign that shall not fail.
III. Isaiah 56—66
Salvation for the Just[s]
1 [t]Thus says the Lord:
Observe what is right, do what is just,
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.(X)
2 Happy is the one who does this,
whoever holds fast to it:
Keeping the sabbath without profaning it,
keeping one’s hand from doing any evil.(Y)
Obligations and Promises to Share in the Covenant
3 [u]The foreigner joined to the Lord should not say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people”;
Nor should the eunuch say,
“See, I am a dry tree.”(Z)
4 For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me,
and who hold fast to my covenant,(AA)
5 I will give them, in my house
and within my walls, a monument and a name[v]
Better than sons and daughters;
an eternal name, which shall not be cut off, will I give them.
6 And foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him,
To love the name of the Lord,
to become his servants—
All who keep the sabbath without profaning it
and hold fast to my covenant,
7 [w]Them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.(AB)
8 [x]Oracle of the Lord God,
who gathers the dispersed of Israel—
Others will I gather to them
besides those already gathered.(AC)
9 All you beasts of the field,[z]
come to devour,
all you beasts in the forest!(AD)
10 [aa]All the sentinels of Israel are blind,
they are without knowledge;
They are all mute dogs,
unable to bark;
loving their sleep.
11 Yes, the dogs have a ravenous appetite;
they never know satiety,
Shepherds who have no understanding;
all have turned their own way,
each one covetous for gain:
12 “Come, let me bring wine;
let us fill ourselves with strong drink,
And tomorrow will be like today,
or even greater.”(AE)
1 The just have perished,
but no one takes it to heart;
The steadfast are swept away,
while no one understands.
Yet the just are taken away from the presence of evil,
2 [ab]and enter into peace;
They rest upon their couches,
the sincere, who walk in integrity.(AF)
An Idolatrous People[ac]
3 But you, draw near,
you children of a sorceress,
offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute![ad]
4 Against whom do you make sport,
against whom do you open wide your mouth,
and stick out your tongue?
Are you not rebellious children,
5 You who burn with lust among the oaks,
under every green tree;
You who immolate children in the wadies,
among the clefts of the rocks?[ae](AG)
6 Among the smooth stones[af] of the wadi is your portion,
they, they are your allotment;
Indeed, you poured out a drink offering to them,
and brought up grain offerings.
With these things, should I be appeased?
7 Upon a towering and lofty mountain
you set up your bed,
and there you went up to offer sacrifice.(AH)
8 Behind the door and the doorpost
you set up your symbol.
Yes, deserting me, you carried up your bedding;
and spread it wide.
You entered an agreement with them,
you loved their couch, you gazed upon nakedness.[ag]
9 You approached the king[ah] with oil,
and multiplied your perfumes;
You sent your ambassadors far away,
down even to deepest Sheol.
10 Though worn out with the length of your journey,
you never said, “It is hopeless”;
You found your strength revived,
and so you did not weaken.
11 Whom did you dread and fear,
that you told lies,
And me you did not remember
nor take to heart?
Am I to keep silent and conceal,
while you show no fear of me?
12 I will proclaim your justice[ai]
and your works;
but they shall not help you.
13 [aj]When you cry out,
let your collection of idols save you.
All these the wind shall carry off,
a mere breath shall bear them away;
But whoever takes refuge in me shall inherit the land,
and possess my holy mountain.
The Way to Peace for God’s People
14 And I say:
Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstacle from my people’s way.[ak](AI)
15 [al]For thus says the high and lofty One,
the One who dwells forever, whose name is holy:
I dwell in a high and holy place,
but also with the contrite and lowly of spirit,
To revive the spirit of the lowly,
to revive the heart of the crushed.
16 For I will not accuse forever,
nor always be angry;
For without me their spirit fails,
the life breath that I have given.(AJ)
17 Because of their wicked avarice I grew angry;
I struck them, hiding myself from them in wrath.
But they turned back, following the way
of their own heart.(AK)
18 I saw their ways,
but I will heal them.
I will lead them and restore full comfort to them
and to those who mourn for them,(AL)
19 creating words of comfort.[am]
Peace! Peace to those who are far and near,
says the Lord; and I will heal them.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea
which cannot be still,
Its waters cast up mire and mud.(AM)
21 There is no peace for the wicked!
says my God.(AN)
Reasons for Judgment[an]
1 Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Proclaim to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.(AO)
2 They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the judgment of their God;
They ask of me just judgments,
they desire to draw near to God.
3 “Why do we fast, but you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, but you take no note?”
See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.(AP)
4 See, you fast only to quarrel and fight
and to strike with a wicked fist!
Do not fast as you do today
to make your voice heard on high!
5 Is this the manner of fasting I would choose,
a day to afflict oneself?
To bow one’s head like a reed,
and lie upon sackcloth and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?(AQ)
Authentic Fasting That Leads to Blessing[ao]
6 Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?(AR)
7 Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?(AS)
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the accusing finger, and malicious speech;(AT)
10 If you lavish your food on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness,
and your gloom shall become like midday;
11 Then the Lord will guide you always
and satisfy your thirst in parched places,
will give strength to your bones
And you shall be like a watered garden,
like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.(AU)
12 Your people shall rebuild the ancient ruins;
the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
“Restorer of ruined dwellings.”(AV)
Authentic Sabbath Observance That Leads to Blessing[ap]
13 If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
the Lord’s holy day glorious;
If you glorify it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs—
14 Then you shall delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.(AW)
1 [aq]No, the hand of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.(AX)
2 Rather, it is your crimes
that separate you from your God,
It is your sins that make him hide his face
so that he does not hear you.
3 For your hands are defiled with blood,
and your fingers with crime;
Your lips speak falsehood,
and your tongue utters deceit.(AY)
4 No one brings suit justly,
no one pleads truthfully;
They trust an empty plea and tell lies;
they conceive mischief and bring forth malice.
5 [ar]They hatch adders’ eggs,
and weave spiders’ webs:
Whoever eats the eggs will die,
if one of them is crushed, it will hatch a viper;(AZ)
6 Their webs cannot serve as clothing,
nor can they cover themselves with their works.
Their works are evil works,
and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7 Their feet run to evil,
and they hasten to shed innocent blood;
Their thoughts are thoughts of wickedness,
violence and destruction are on their highways.(BA)
8 The way of peace they know not,
and there is no justice on their paths;
Their roads they have made crooked,
no one who walks in them knows peace.
Acknowledgment of Transgressions
9 [as]That is why judgment is far from us
and justice does not reach us.
We look for light, but there is darkness;
for brightness, and we walk in gloom!(BB)
10 Like those who are blind we grope along the wall,
like people without eyes we feel our way.
We stumble at midday as if at twilight,
among the vigorous, we are like the dead.
11 Like bears we all growl,
like doves we moan without ceasing.
We cry out for justice, but it is not there;
for salvation, but it is far from us.(BC)
12 For our transgressions before you are many,
our sins bear witness against us.
Our transgressions are present to us,
and our crimes we acknowledge:
13 Transgressing, and denying the Lord,
turning back from following our God,
Planning fraud and treachery,
uttering lying words conceived in the heart.
14 Judgment is turned away,
and justice stands far off;
For truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.(BD)
15 Fidelity is lacking,
and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.
The Lord saw this, and was aggrieved
that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
was appalled that there was none to intervene;
Then his own arm brought about the victory,
and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on justice as his breastplate,
victory as a helmet on his head;
He clothed himself with garments of vengeance,
wrapped himself in a mantle of zeal.(BE)
18 According to their deeds he repays his enemies
and requites his foes with wrath;
to the coastlands he renders recompense.
19 Those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord,
and those in the east, his glory,
Coming like a pent-up stream
driven on by the breath of the Lord.
20 Then for Zion shall come a redeemer,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression—oracle of the Lord.(BF)
21 [at]This is my covenant with them,
which I myself have made, says the Lord:
My spirit which is upon you
and my words that I have put in your mouth
Shall not depart from your mouth,
nor from the mouths of your children
Nor the mouths of your children’s children
from this time forth and forever, says the Lord.(BG)
The Dawning of Divine Glory for Zion
1 [au]Arise! Shine, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.(BH)
2 Though darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds, the peoples,
Upon you the Lord will dawn,
and over you his glory will be seen.
3 Nations shall walk by your light,
kings by the radiance of your dawning.(BI)
The Nations Come to Zion
4 Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you—
Your sons from afar,
your daughters in the arms of their nurses.(BJ)
5 Then you shall see and be radiant,
your heart shall throb and overflow.
For the riches of the sea shall be poured out before you,
the wealth of nations shall come to you.
6 Caravans of camels shall cover you,
dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
All from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and heralding the praises of the Lord.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you,
the rams of Nebaioth shall serve your needs;
They will be acceptable offerings on my altar,
and I will glorify my glorious house.
8 Who are these that fly along like a cloud,
like doves to their cotes?
9 The vessels of the coastlands are gathering,
with the ships of Tarshish in the lead,
To bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them—
For the name of the Lord, your God,
for the Holy One of Israel who has glorified you.
Honor and Service for Zion[av]
10 Foreigners shall rebuild your walls,
their kings shall minister to you;
Though in my wrath I struck you,
yet in my good will I have shown you mercy.(BK)
11 Your gates shall stand open constantly;
day and night they shall not be closed
So that they may bring you the wealth of nations,
with their kings in the vanguard.(BL)
12 For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you shall perish;
such nations shall be utterly destroyed!(BM)
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come to you—
the juniper, the fir, and the cypress all together—
To bring beauty to my sanctuary,
and glory to the place where I stand.(BN)
14 The children of your oppressors shall come,
bowing before you;
All those who despised you,
shall bow low at your feet.
They shall call you “City of the Lord,”
“Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”
15 No longer forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
Now I will make you the pride of the ages,
a joy from generation to generation.
16 You shall suck the milk of nations,
and be nursed at royal breasts;
And you shall know that I, the Lord, am your savior,
your redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17 Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
instead of iron I will bring silver;
Instead of wood, bronze;
instead of stones, iron.
I will appoint peace your governor,
and justice your ruler.(BO)
18 No longer shall violence be heard of in your land,
or plunder and ruin within your borders.
You shall call your walls “Salvation”
and your gates “Praise.”
Eternal Light for Zion
19 [aw]No longer shall the sun
be your light by day,
Nor shall the brightness of the moon
give you light by night;
Rather, the Lord will be your light forever,
your God will be your glory.(BP)
20 No longer will your sun set,
or your moon wane;
For the Lord will be your light forever,
and the days of your grieving will be over.
21 Your people will all be just;
for all time they will possess the land;
They are the shoot that I planted,
the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.(BQ)
22 The least one shall become a clan,
the smallest, a mighty nation;
I, the Lord, will swiftly accomplish
these things when the time comes.(BR)
The Anointed Bearer of Glad Tidings
1 [ax]The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
release to the prisoners,(BS)
2 To announce a year of favor from the Lord
and a day of vindication by our God;
To comfort all who mourn;(BT)
3 to place on those who mourn in Zion
a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit.
Restoration and Blessing
They will be called oaks of justice,
the planting of the Lord to show his glory.
4 They shall rebuild the ancient ruins,
the former wastes they shall raise up
And restore the desolate cities,
devastations of generation upon generation.(BU)
5 Strangers shall stand ready to pasture your flocks,
foreigners shall be your farmers and vinedressers.
6 [ay]You yourselves shall be called “Priests of the Lord,”
“Ministers of our God” you shall be called.
You shall eat the wealth of the nations
and in their riches you will boast.(BV)
7 Because their shame was twofold[az]
and disgrace was proclaimed their portion,
They will possess twofold in their own land;
everlasting joy shall be theirs.(BW)
God’s Word of Promise
8 For I, the Lord, love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
an everlasting covenant I will make with them.(BX)
9 Their offspring shall be renowned among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
All who see them shall acknowledge them:
“They are offspring the Lord has blessed.”
Thanksgiving for God’s Deliverance
10 [ba]I will rejoice heartily in the Lord,
my being exults in my God;
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation,
and wrapped me in a robe of justice,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.(BY)
11 As the earth brings forth its shoots,
and a garden makes its seeds spring up,
So will the Lord God make justice spring up,
and praise before all the nations.
A New Name for Zion
1 [bb]For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still,
Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her salvation like a burning torch.(BZ)
2 Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
You shall be called by a new name
bestowed by the mouth of the Lord.(CA)
3 You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No more shall you be called “Forsaken,”
nor your land called “Desolate,”
But you shall be called “My Delight is in her,”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be espoused.(CB)
5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
6 Upon your walls, Jerusalem,
I have stationed sentinels;
By day and by night,
they shall never be silent.
You who are to remind the Lord,
take no rest,
7 And give him no rest,
until he re-establishes Jerusalem
And makes it the praise of the earth.
The Blessings of Salvation for God’s People
8 [bc]The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
No more will I give your grain
as food to your enemies;
Nor shall foreigners drink the wine,
for which you toiled.(CC)
9 But those who harvest shall eat,
and praise the Lord;
Those who gather shall drink
in my holy courts.(CD)
10 [bd]Pass through, pass through the gates,
prepare a way for the people;(CE)
Build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones,
raise up a standard over the nations.
11 The Lord has proclaimed
to the ends of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion,
“See, your savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
his recompense before him.”(CF)
12 They shall be called “The Holy People,”
“The Redeemed of the Lord.”
And you shall be called “Cared For,”
“A City Not Forsaken.”(CG)
- 52:7–10 God leads the people back from Babylon to Zion, from whose ruined walls sentinels greet the returning exiles.
- 52:11 From there: from Babylon. Vessels of the Lord: taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, now carried back by the exiles returning in procession to Zion; cf. Ezr 1:7.
- 52:13–53:12 The last of the “servant of the Lord” oracles (see note on 42:1–4). Taken together, these oracles depict a figure of one called by God for a vocation to Israel and the nations (42:4; 49:5–6); the servant’s exaltation both opens and closes the passage (52:13; 53:12). The servant responded in fidelity but has suffered opposition (50:4–6). In this fourth oracle the servant is characterized as “a man of suffering” (53:3) and appears to be unjustly put to death (53:8–9). Those who have witnessed his career somehow recognize that he is innocent, has undergone suffering for their sins (53:4–6), and his death is referred to as a reparation offering (see note on 53:10–11). The servant is described in ways that identify him with Israel (which is frequently referred to as “servant” in the context of Second Isaiah—e.g., 41:8, 9; 44:2, 21; 43:4) and is designated as “Israel” in 49:3; yet Israel outside the “servant of the Lord” oracles is not presented as sinless, but rather in exile because of sin (40:2; 42:21–25) and even as servant as deaf and blind (42:18–19). The servant is thus both identified with Israel and distinguished from it. As with the previous servant poems, this chapter helped the followers of Jesus to interpret his suffering, death, and resurrection; see especially the passion narratives.
- 53:1–10 What we have heard: this fourth servant oracle is introduced by words of the Lord (52:13–15) but is now continued by speakers who are not identified, perhaps those referred to in 52:15, perhaps Israel (cf. “struck for the sins of his people”—v. 8). The Lord is again the speaker in vv. 11–13.
- 53:4 Struck down by God: the Bible often sees suffering as a punishment for sin (e.g., Ps 6:2; 32:1–5), yet sin sometimes appears to go unpunished and the innocent often suffer (cf. Ps 73; the Book of Job). In the case of the servant, the onlookers initially judge him guilty because of his suffering but, in some way not explained, they come to understand that his sufferings are for the sins of others. One notes the element of surprise, for such vicarious suffering, in the form described here, is without parallel in the Old Testament.
- 53:6 The Lord laid upon him: the servant’s suffering is no accidental or casual matter, but part of God’s plan; see also v. 10. The bystanders’ speculation of v. 4 is verified, but not in the sense intended by them.
- 53:10–11 Reparation offering: the Hebrew term ’asham is used of a particular kind of sacrifice, one that is intended as compensation for that which is due because of guilt. See Lv 5:14–26 and note. Justify: the verb means “to be acquitted,” “declared innocent,” but since the servant bears “their iniquity,” an effective rather than simply legal action is suggested.
- 54:1 Jerusalem, pictured as a wife who had been barren and deserted, now suddenly finds herself with innumerable children (the returning exiles); cf. Gal 4:27 for an application to a new context.
- 54:3 Those who had taken advantage of the exile to encroach on Jerusalem’s territory will be driven out, and the returning exiles will repopulate the cities of Judah.
- 54:4–8 As with some other Old Testament themes, Second Isaiah uses that of Israel as the Lord’s bride in a new manner. Whereas Hosea and Jeremiah had depicted Israel as the Lord’s spouse to emphasize both Israel’s infidelity and the Lord’s continued love (Hos 1–3; Jer 2:2; 3:1–15) and Ezekiel to accuse Israel unsparingly (Ez 16; 23), Second Isaiah speaks only of the love with which the Lord restores the people, speaking tender words with no hint of reproach.
- 54:5 Redeemer: cf. note on 41:14.
- 54:10 Covenant of peace: this whole section, vv. 9–17, is given to various assurances of God’s love for Israel and of safety from various possible threats; the phrase sums up both the positive aspects of shalom, which implies a fullness of blessing, and protection from all that might harm. Cf. also 55:3; Nm 25:12; Ez 34:25; 37:26; Mal 2:5.
- 54:11 Afflicted one: Jerusalem.
- 55:1–3 The prophet invites all to return, under the figure of a banquet; cf. the covenant banquet in Ex 24:9–11 and wisdom’s banquet in Prv 9:1–6. The Lord’s covenant with David (2 Sm 7) is now to be extended beyond his dynasty.
- 55:5 The “nation” is Persia under Cyrus, but the perspective is worldwide.
- 55:6–9 The invitation to seek the Lord is motivated by the mercy of a God whose “ways” are completely mysterious.
- 55:10–11 The efficacy of the word of God recalls 40:5, 8.
- 55:13 Thornbush…nettles: suggestive of the desert and therefore symbolic of suffering and hardship; cypress…myrtle: suggestive of fertile land and therefore symbolic of joy and strength. To the Lord’s renown: lit., “to the name of the Lord.”
- 56:1–8 This poem inaugurates the final section of the Book of Isaiah, often referred to as Third or Trito-Isaiah. While Second or Deutero-Isaiah (Is 40–55) gave numerous references to the hopes of the community of Israel during the Babylonian exile (ca. 587–538 B.C.), Third Isaiah witnesses to the struggles and hoped-for blessings of the postexilic community now back in the homeland of Israel. In this opening poem, the references to “keeping the sabbath” (vv. 2, 4, 6), “holding fast to the covenant” (vv. 4, 6) and “God’s holy mountain” as a house of prayer (v. 7), all tell of the postexilic community that was establishing itself again in the land according to the pattern of God’s word given through the prophet. The poem can be classified as a “prophetic exhortation” in which the prophet gives instruction for those who wish to live according to God’s word and covenant. What is important to note are the conditions placed upon the people of God; while Is 40–55 show an unconditional promise of redemption, these final chapters delineate clear expectations for receiving God’s salvific promises. Both the expectations and the great promises of God will unfold in the succeeding chapters of Third Isaiah.
- 56:1 This opening verse echoes themes that are well known throughout the Book of Isaiah: justice and right judgment (1:27; 5:7, 16; 9:6; 16:5; 26:9; 28:17; 32:1, 16; 33:5; 42:1, 4, 6; 45:8, 13, 19), salvation and deliverance (12:3; 26:18; 33:2; 45:8, 21; 46:13; 51:5, 6, 8). These themes will be developed also throughout Third Isaiah.
- 56:3 Eunuchs had originally been excluded from the community of the Lord; cf. Dt 23:2; Neh 13:1–3; Wis 3:14.
- 56:5 A monument and a name: literally in Hebrew, “a hand and a name”; a memorial inscription to prevent oblivion for one who had no children; cf. 2 Sm 18:18; Neh 7:5; 13:14.
- 56:7 This verse continues the theme of universalism found in Is 49:6. As Israel was to be “a light to the nations” so that God’s “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” so now does that come to pass as foreigners, faithful to the divine commands, are brought to the Temple by God and joined to the covenant community of Israel.
- 56:8 For the gathering of the dispersed people of Israel, cf. Jer 23:3; 31:8–9; Ez 11:17. Here the Lord not only gathers the displaced of Israel, but also unites other peoples to them. Cf. Is 60:3–10; 66:18–21.
- 56:9–57:21 This section is made up of two pronouncements of judgment (56:9–57:2; 57:3–13) and an oracle of salvation (57:14–21), each of which ends with a reversal of imagery and language. While there are harsh indictments against the corrupt leaders of Israel (56:9–12), a promise of peace is offered to those who are just (57:1–2). Then the judgment and its subsequent punishment for idolaters (57:3–13a) change to an announcement of reward for those who place their trust in God (57:13c). And the promises of salvation (57:14–19) then shift to a word of warning to the wicked (57:20–21).
- 56:9 Beasts of the field: foreign nations, which are invited to come and ravage Israel.
- 56:10–11 These shepherds of Israel are without “knowledge,” a theme developed earlier in the Isaian corpus; cf. 1:3; 6:9–10. Ezekiel 34 has similar condemnatory words against the unfaithful shepherds of Israel.
- 57:2 Despite their sad fate, the just will ultimately attain peace (most likely in this world); cf. v. 13.
- 57:3–13 In this courtroom imagery, the idolaters are summoned before the judge (v. 3), their crimes are graphically described (vv. 4–11), their guilt is established, and condemnation is carried out (vv. 12–13b). In contrast to this, v. 13c describes the inheritance of God’s land and holy mountain given to those who place their confidence in God instead of in idols.
- 57:3 Language of sexual infidelity is often used in a figurative way to describe idolatry. Cf. Ez 16:15–22; Hos 2:4–7; Col 3:5.
- 57:5 Child sacrifice is also attested in 2 Kgs 23:10; Jer 7:31; Ez 16:20; 20:28, 31; 23:37–39.
- 57:6 Smooth stones: the Hebrew word for this expression has the same consonants as the word for “portion”; instead of making the Lord their portion (cf. Ps 16:5), the people adored slabs of stone which they took from the streambeds in valleys and set up as idols; cf. Jer 3:9. Therefore, it is implied, they will be swept away as by a sudden torrent of waters carrying them down the rocky-bottomed gorge to destruction and death without burial.
- 57:8 Nakedness: literally in Hebrew, “hand.” In this context, it may euphemistically refer to a phallus.
- 57:9 The king: in Hebrew, the word for king is melek, similar in sound to the Canaanite god Molech, to whom children were offered as a sacrifice in pagan ritual. The expression “your ambassadors” could be a figurative expression for the children whose death served as an offering to this deity.
- 57:12 Justice: here used sarcastically. The activity described in these verses is far from the justice which God demands of those who are aligned with the covenant (cf. 56:1, 4, 6). In the larger context of Third Isaiah and the whole of the Isaian tradition, justice is a key theological motif. The justice to which God calls Israel will eventually come to its fulfillment in an act of divine intervention (cf. 60:21; 61:3c). Until then, the people of God must strive to live in the ways of justice and right judgment (56:1).
- 57:13 In v. 6, the smooth stones of the valley are the portion which the unfaithful will receive as their due reward (cf. note on v. 6); while in v. 13c, an inheritance of the land and possession of God’s holy mountain will be the portion of the upright.
- 57:14 The way…my people’s way: the language and imagery are reminiscent of 40:1–2, but in this context, when the people have already returned, the physical road through the desert is replaced by the spiritual way that leads to redemption.
- 57:15 The God of Israel is presented in both a transcendent and an immanent manner. God’s holiness is the transcendent quality; the immanence is shown in the choice of dwelling among the downtrodden and humble.
- 57:19 Creating words of comfort: lit., “fruit of the lips,” perhaps referring to praise and thanksgiving for the divine healing; cf. Hos 14:3.
- 58:1–5 The prophet is commanded to condemn the formalism of the people, specifically their hypocritical fasting.
- 58:6–12 Fasting is not genuine without reforming one’s way of life. A true social morality will ensure prosperity.
- 58:13–14 Sabbath observance becomes a cornerstone of postexilic piety; cf. 56:2, 4, 6.
- 59:1–20 This poem brings together a lament of the postexilic community and a harsh word of judgment from the prophet. After the opening rhetorical question, each of the stanzas begins with a reference to the justice and right judgment which are lacking among the people (vv. 4, 9, 14). Toward the end of the poem, God is depicted as a Divine Warrior (vv. 16–20) who is the only one who can intervene in order to bring redemption. This same Divine Warrior imagery is repeated in a similar fashion in 63:1–6.
- 59:5–6 The eggs signify evil works, doing positive harm; the webs are devices that serve no useful purpose.
- 59:9–15 The turning point in the poem comes when the people acknowledge their transgressions and describe the horror of their present state. Light is a metaphor for salvation (cf. 9:1; 42:16; 60:1–3, 19–20) and darkness represents sin and disaster.
- 59:21 This verse makes the transition from chaps. 56–59 to chaps. 60–62. Oracles of judgment yield to oracles about God’s redemptive action.
- 60:1–9 The light the prophet proclaims to Zion symbolizes the blessing to come to her: the glory of the Lord, the return of her children, the wealth of nations who themselves will walk by her light. The passage is famous from its use in the Latin liturgy for the feast of Epiphany.
- 60:10–18 The glorious promises for the future continue: the wealth of the nations (vv. 5, 10), tribute from kings, glorification of the Temple, peace and justice (cf. Ps 85:11).
- 60:19–20 The theme of light is taken up again, but in an apocalyptic vein: the Lord’s radiant presence replaces physical light.
- 61:1–2 The prophet proclaims that he has been anointed by the Lord to bring good news (cf. 40:9) to the afflicted and to comfort Zion. The background to the “year of favor” is the jubilee year of release from debts (Lv 25:10–11; Is 49:8).
- 61:6 The bestowal of a new name suggests a new identity and mission. The whole people will be priests (cf. Ex 19:6), even ministering to nations who will serve God’s people.
- 61:7 Twofold: Israel was punished double for infidelity (40:2); the blessings of its restoration will also be double.
- 61:10–11 The new life of the restored Zion is expressed in nuptial (cf. also 62:5) and agricultural (cf. v. 3; 60:21) imagery.
- 62:1–12 As in chap. 60, the prophet addresses Zion, announcing the reversal of her fortune. Several motifs reappear: light and glory (60:1–3, 19–20), tribute of nations (60:11), and especially the marriage (61:10; cf. also 54:5–8).
- 62:8–9 Peace and prosperity are indicated by the absence of invaders who would live off the land.
- 62:10–11 The gates of Babylon are to be opened for the exiles to return, led by the Lord, as in 40:3–5, 10.